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August 11, 2014

Mr. Anthony J. Annucci

Acting Commissioner
Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
1220 Washington Ave
Building 2
Albany, NY 12226-2050

Re: Prolonged Solitary Confinement and Abuse of
Transgender Women in DOCCS Facilities

Dear Commissioner Annucci,

As advocates for the safety and rights of LGBT people and of all incarcerated persons, we write
to express our concern regarding a pattern of prolonged solitary confinement and physical and
sexual abuse of transgender people in DOCCS facilities, as illustrated in accounts of
incarcerated transgender women that were recently published on the Solitary Watch news site.
We call upon you to take decisive and immediate action to end the practice of prolonged
isolation, and ensure that transgender people receive housing placements consistent with their
identity, health, and safety.

The women who shared their stories with Solitary Watch described a pattern of automatic,
prolonged, and traumatic solitary confinement in men's prisons. Their stories tragically
demonstrated that solitary confinement does not prevent sexual abuse and other harms to
vulnerable incarcerated persons, but instead inflicts further harm. DOCCS's statement in the
Solitary Watch story that "DOCCS has not identified a systemic problem of transgender women
being sexually victimized by either other inmates or staff" is problematic, to say the least. For the
past several years, research and media reports across the country have demonstrated the
staggering disparities in sexual abuse of transgender women in correctional facilities. The well-
documented racial disparities amongst individuals in prolonged isolation mean that transgender
women of color are disproportionately affected. The stories reported by Solitary Watch, and
other advocates and community members who have diligently notified DOCCS of such abuses
over the past decade, suggest that DOCCS facilities are no exception.

While we appreciate DOCCSs efforts to address this problem by introducing a new screening
tool and sensitivity training, these steps are inadequate to address these serious problems and
ensure full compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act's (PREA) protections for
transgender people.

To ensure compliance with PREA, DOCCS must commit to housing transgender people consistent
with their gender identity in appropriate casesincluding housing transgender women in womens
facilities where appropriate, regardless of surgical status. DOCCS should also consider following the
example of the New York City Department of Corrections and establish one or more additional,
entirely voluntary, transgender housing units that allow for safer placement in a general population
setting. Finally, DOCCS must commit to eliminating the prolonged use of isolation (including
disciplinary, administrative segregation, and protective custody) for all individuals, and ensuring that
those in protective custody for any period of time have full access to programming, jobs, group
meals, and recreation.

We urge you to take swift and decisive action to address these pressing concerns, and we are
ready, willing and able to work with DOCCS to help implement these essential changes.


National Center for Transgender Equality

Prisoners Legal Services of New York

Sylvia Rivera Law Project

Trans Women of Color Collective

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